State Fair tragedy prompts new Indiana law

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Last year's stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair has already led to new legislation aimed at improving safety at outdoor events.

State Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) authored a bill requiring the Indiana Fire Prevention and Building Safety Commission to create regulatory rules for outdoor stage equipment. One of the findings to come out of the investigation into the August 2011 stage collapse was that no permits are required for temporary stages.

The bill, which Gov. Mitch Daniels signed into law in March 2012, establishes an Outdoor Stage Safety Committee to study issues related to temporary structures and review the reports released Thursday.

"I'm happy to say legislators were able to start building tougher regulations for temporary staging structures during the 2012 session with Senate Enrolled Act 273. It's my sincere hope this new law helps ensure future events using temporary staging provide a safe and worry-free environment for everyone in our state," said Sen. Merritt. "Today's reports from Thornton Tomasetti and Witt Associates appear to be very thorough, and I look forward to studying in greater detail their recommendations for model legislation. There's always room for improvement. The changes that have been undertaken by the State Fair Commission since Aug. 13, as mentioned in the report, are exceptional, and I'm pleased members are proactively planning a safe State Fair."

Merritt is a member of the State Fair Legislative Advisory Committee.